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Why do we put such an emphasis on spaying our girls?
The short answer is that it not only eliminates any chance of reproduction, but a host of other health issues as well.
It comes as a surprise to many first time and veteran guinea pig parents that rates of uterine cancer, uterine infections, cystic ovaries and mammary tumors in guinea pigs are quite high. It’s true that many people will have had female guinea pigs live long and healthy lives; however, with these pets it is better to be safe than sorry. And it’s much easier for a young sow to recover from surgery than a more senior pig.
Guinea pigs are beautiful, delicate, and, when compared to a cat or dog friend, oddly built. The ovaries of the guinea pig are way up back behind some of her other organs. (Soon we’ll have photos on our blog if you’re interested in seeing what a healthy system looks like compared to ones riddled with growths, masses, and tumors.) This is why it is so important to have a cavy savvy surgeon. In Portland we are lucky to have two of the best doctors regularly available to perform spays. NEVER let a doctor who does not have a long and successful history with guinea pigs operate on your animals.
Unfortunately, there are many vets who, for whatever reason, say that they are cavy savvy when they aren’t. This is when we see cases of botched surgeries, deadly advice, or the prescription of medicine contraindicative to guinea pig health.
Don’t choose your vet because of convenience or price – go to the most legitimately experienced cavy veterinarian.
Back to spaying. In older females once trouble in the reproductive system starts it can lead to aggressive behavior, such as fighting, biting, and mounting cagemates. Female pigs can be buddies for years, until there is a hormonal disruption. At that point surgery is necessary, but might be riskier than ever.
When you have your girls spayed plan on spending $250 - $400 per pig. That’s not a typo. Two Hundred and Fifty to Four Hundred Dollars.
At the Rescue, we pay $180 out of our medical fund or out of our pockets for each spay. That female’s adoption fee then becomes $125. We eat the $65 difference because we believe so strongly in sending healthy, vetted pigs into new homes. Unfortunately at this time we can’t have every single girl spayed, so we trust that adopters will get their girls altered if they adopt in-tact sows.
Spaying also allows us to pair adoptable females with adoptable, unaltered males. We have a lot of success pairing and finding homes for spayed girls and unaltered boar couples. Much more success than we have in finding homes for single boys!
There you have it! Please feel free to contact us or your cavy savvy veterinarian with questions about altering your guinea pigs.
P.S. We don’t often alter boys, because with our limited funds we need to emphasize sow health. Neutering boys is helpful for cutting down on their special cologne smell, and can help with impaction issues but if it’s not done then they aren’t as likely likely to suffer from reproductive organ complications. They can get mammary tumors or testicular tumors. Ideally, everyone would receive an alteration surgery, but financially we are not there yet. Someday! You can always help by donating.